As Notre Dame burned, the western world wept. The artistic treasures and monuments damaged represented a body blow to European culture and triggered an emotional outpouring closer to mass grief than a mere Church fire.
The same sense of raw stunned emotional shock welcomed Jacinda Ardern’s statement that the CGT would never ever become policy while she was leader.
For the Left a CGT is more than a taxation, it was a solemn promise made to every working person in Aotearoa.
The Left promised working people who worked their fingers to the bone to make ends meet that those from across town with the right connections and the exclusive School ties and elite Rugby handshakes who smugly drove past as their speculation gained them untaxed wealth wouldn’t forever remain unburdened by the cost of propping up our society.
A CGT was a promise to those grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, fathers, mothers, friends, whanau, children that the very taxation system that underpinned our democracy was an even playing field where everyone, not just the already rich and connected, could have social mobility and agency.
The only person within labour who even came close to actually making the argument to defend the CGT was Willie Jackson on his Facebook page…
I was the youngest freezing worker president in this country. It’s hard physical work in the freezing works, and while I have gone on to hold many jobs and roles in my life, the injustice that a worker paid tax on every dollar they earned while business people and property speculators did not, angered me then as it does now.This CGT is an attempt to share the tax burden across the entire spectrum of the economy and lift the yoke of obligation from the shoulders of working people.Why should the men and women of the freezing works, of the manufacturing jobs, retail, clerical, the nurses, Drs, Teachers, Police, labourers, everyone who pays PAYE, why should they shoulder the full weight of taxation while owners and speculators don’t pay a cent?This is about inequality and how to counter that inequality. Why should working people pay tax, but those who can afford accountants avoid it?
The proposal had a lone champion: former Labour finance minister and Working Group chairman Sir Michael Cullen. Having him front the debate probably sounded like a good idea when it was dreamed up in the Beehive by a room full of people dazzled by Cullen’s brilliance, but it was never obvious that the wider public (a) remembered who Cullen was or (b) if they did, whether they liked or trusted him, Cullen having been a rather caustic and smug political figure, or (c) if they did remember and trust him, whether they were aware of Cullen’s very vocal contempt for a capital gains tax the entire time he held the finance portfolio, and also (d) all that aside, how much credibility he had once it was revealed the government was paying him $1000 a day to do their job for them.
The only person who could have won the debate was Jacinda, and Jacinda was regally silent. She had to be because she was ‘consulting with her coalition partners’ but even when she was forced to speak to tax issues in the House – the one place Ardern and Robertson couldn’t pay Cullen to speak for them – her lines were barely coherent. It’s the only time Simon Bridges, National’s inept, doomed leader looked more prime ministerial than Ardern.